Path of Return
This paper is a continuation of, The Teaching of Abraham.
As we discussed in the former lesson the Path of G-d is found in doing, tzedakah – righteous giving [taking that which G-d placed in our care and putting it to proper use.] and mishpot – the laws that are incumbent upon all; this is the Seven Laws of Noah for the non-Jewish nations and the 613 Laws of Torah for Israel. You will find a detailed list of the 7 Noahide Laws in my last article, The Teaching of Abraham.
If you have not read it, I recommend reading it before continuing on because the Path of Return is the same as the Path of G-d discussed in that article.
When someone hears or reads the words, “In the beginning G-d…” they relate to the first words of the Hebrew Scriptures called the Torah. Most relate it to the creation week of the world and universe around us. But there is more to the story and there are a few verses within the opening chapters of creation that is overlooked. Within these verses is a powerful message for everyone from their Creator.
Bereishis/Genesis 4:6-7 “And G-d said to Cain, “Why are you annoyed, and why has your countenance fallen? Surely, if you improve yourself, you will be forgiven. But if you do not improve yourself, sin rest at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it.”
Let’s take a close look at what this passage is saying.
In this passage we do not see G-d questioning or showing anger with Cain about his improper offering. We find G-d discussing Cain’s attitude of the rejection. He does not even ask for another offering.
Then the verse makes an interesting statement at the beginning.
“And G-d said to Cain,” when actually G-d lead off with two questions; the passage should have read, “And G-d questioned Cain.” But as important as the questions are, it is what He said, that is more important.
We are getting instructions from the Creator at the beginning of creation on how to deal with sin.
He tells us up front that if we will improve ourselves that we will be forgiven. He also tells us that we have the power to conquer sin.
This is completely opposite of the Christian message that says you cannot conquer sin only Jesus can and if you work on your sins to improve then it is by works not grace – the grace message is foreign to the Torah [the direct instructions from the Creator given to Israel at Mount Sinai.] The Christian message of grace is one that leads away from the One true G-d instead of to Him. He has always shown his mercy and grace since the beginning, it did not just appear with Jesus.
He made us and He knows what we can do for good or evil – If He says we can conquer sin then believe no man that says you cannot.
Before the advent of Christianity G-d gave instructions on how to return to Him, there is no need for a new message. The instructions of G-d are simple and they do away with the ideas of any pagan religion including Christianity.
Psalms 19:8 “The Torah of G-d is perfect, restoring the soul”
So, what improvements do we need to do that will lead to forgiveness?
Keep the two words, tzedakah/righteousness & mishpot/justice in mind.
Ezekiel 18 is a very powerful chapter. A large part of it G-d is going into detail about a command in the Torah that no one can die for another’s sin.
Deut. 24:16 “Fathers shall not be put to death because of sons, and sons shall not be put to death because of fathers; a man shall be put to death for his own sin.”
Ezekiel 18:1 The word of G-d came to me saying:
Ezekiel 18:4 Behold all souls are Mine; like the soul of the father, so the soul of the son, they are Mine. The soul that sins – it shall die.
Right off we are told that this is G-d speaking, we also see here that no souls are lost to Him for He owns every soul. And finally this chapter is discussing the life and death of the soul not the body.
For the sake of space I recommend you study the whole chapter. I recommend a Hebrew/English Tanach, I like the Artscroll Stone Edition. As you will see here that G-d is adamant about a person paying for his own way; this being said then He would not send someone to pay for your sins after He has given so much detail on that is not accepted by Him.
The path of return is now before us.
The path of return does not require any blood offering as some will have you believe. That is another whole lesson. There are several ways of forgiveness that we are given throughout the Hebrew Scriptures that require no blood for the forgiveness of sins. The one we are about to discuss is the primary one for it weaves itself through the others.
T’shuvah is Hebrew meaning, to turn, often translated as repentance – repentance requires action on your part – yes it requires work. But what is that work?
“As for the wicked man, if he repents from all his sins that he committed, and he observes all my decrees and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”
Here we see part of our confessing of all our sins we are required to practice something and that something is mishpot and tzedakah. Remember Genesis 18:19 where we learned what Abraham taught his children and household. It is the very same thing.
Not only is mishpot and tzedakah the Path of G-d, they are also the Path of Return.
Let’s continue and discover the reward of this Path.
“All his transgressions that he committed will not be remembered against him; he shall live because of the righteousness that he did.
The word of G-d is opposite of the message of Christianity here – sins are forgiven and not remembered because of an action and that action is the doing of mishpot and tzedakah.
Even more news awaits us.
“And if the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he did and performs justice and righteousness, he will cause his soul to live.
Right here from the mouth of G-d He tells us that by DOING tzedakah/righteousness & mishpot/justice – WE WILL CAUSE OUR SOUL TO LIVE.
The Hebrew is plain; I will try to transliterate it here for you.
“hu es nafshoy ya-chai-yeh
Here in the Hebrew we see that doing tzedakah and mishpot causes your soul to live and not die.
There is no command in the Hebrew Scriptures that tell us that we must accept a messiah, or a so called son of G-d to have eternal life.
G-d has told us that He does not change. The day He spoke that the performance of mishpot and tzedakah would bring about change that led to forgiveness of sins and saving ones soul from death has not ceased even up to this day.
These words in Ezekiel were given to Israel, it expounds on the Torah principle that G-d does not allow another human to die for another for the sake of taking on their penalty of sin. G-d tells us that each person will deal with their own sin.
As a non-Jew, if we return to G-d using the principle in Ezekiel 18 you will be living by the same words that Abraham used to lead people out of idolatry in his day.
By doing mishpot and tzedakah you will not only cause your soul to live it to will lead you out of the modern day idolatry and cause you to live as a righteous gentile in which there is a promised place in the World to Come for you as well.
G-d loved Abraham because he taught others to keep the Path of G-d.
The Path of G-d and the Path of Return is for all people at all times, these are the never changing ways of a G-d of chesed/kindness.
The only difference is, if you are a Jew you have more mishpotim to do than the gentile. The gentile will follow what Abraham taught and the Jew will follow what Moshe taught; which is the same as Abraham but because of the Jew’s responsibility of being a light and priest unto the nations there is more them to do to complete the job given to them by G-d.
Terry W. Hayes
Artscroll Tanach Stone Edition